The Allgood Series: Book One
By Kim Louise
Copyright 2000 Back Stoop Press
Destiny picked up the red notebook from her nightstand. The label read, "Destiny Chandler v. Rico Freeman, Doc. 284, Page 549." She opened the book and scanned the information she had copiously collected over the past year. Letters from Rico, log sheets of his phone calls, pictures of broken windows, and copies of repair bills. She had hoped that keeping a thorough record of Rico's protection order violations would be enough. It wasn't.
Her lawyer had called a week ago to inform her that despite her intensive record keeping, she would have to testify against him. And because no one was ever around to witness his violations, it would be her word against his. Destiny had hoped desperately that things wouldn't come to that, but they had. And now her court date was less than an hour away.
Destiny pushed the notebook away in disbelief. How could this kind of tragedy happen to her? She racked her brain trying to figure out what she had done to deserve her predicament. She was deep in thought when the phone rang. Right away, she knew it would be her best friend, Jacq.
"Girl, did you call Psychic Friends or what?"
"I just knew you would call."
"I wish I could be there with you, but . . ."
"I know, I know, your new job."
"Yeah girl, and it's kicking my butt."
Destiny chuckled. "They always do."
Destiny Chandler and Jacquelyn Jackson had been friends since junior high school. In their twenty-year friendship, Destiny had never known Jacq to keep a job much longer than six months.
"So, what you doin' now?
Destiny looked over at the red notebook that contained the traumatic details of her recent life, and shook her head.
"I'm trying to figure out what I've done to deserve all this."
"You shouldn't have whooped it on him so tough."
At that remark, Destiny almost smiled. Jacq could always make her laugh. But stalking was not a subject she could laugh off.
"I'm serious, Jacq. I can't figure it out." Destiny took a deep breath. "I work hard. I've been with the Arts and Humanities Council for ten years. I give back to my community. When the council started a tuition reimbursement program, I jumped on it. I wasn't out there playing in the streets; I was studying. And if I do say so myself, I'm probably the best photohistorian in Nebraska."
"And you said all that to say . . ."
"They say that what goes around comes around. After all the good I've tried to do, I don't understand why someone is so intent on making my life horrible. And it is not my whip appeal!"
Jacq almost laughed, but stopped herself because she knew her friend was serious. "Destiny, I know what you're saying, and I'm sorry about that comment. You know, girl, I was kidding earlier, but I'm serious now. You could have been Suzie, Rénee or Shaneequa, and it wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference. Because it's not you; it's him. He's just pure-d crazy. So stop trying to blame yourself."
Destiny wanted to believe her friend, but was too anxious about the trial to think straight.
"Maybe you're right," Destiny conceded.
"Look, it's almost time. You need something to set your mind right. Have you listened to that Allgood CD I left over there?"
"Jacq, the last thing on my mind has been music, especially that hippity hoppity mayhem you have an affinity for."
"Des, I told you. This brotha is different. He's so different, they don't even have a category for him yet. He's inventing it as we speak."
"Uh-huh." Destiny feigned attention.
"I'm telling you, girl, he is the bomb, truly. And his stuff is just what you need to clear your head and lift your spirit. Imagine, a supa-fine brotha tellin you that you are the most beautiful creature ever born, and meaning it."
"I sure need something to steady my nerves. I'm not a wreck now, but I've got a feeling it's coming."
"Then pop that CD in your car stereo and listen to it on the way to court. You'll see what I mean."
"All right, all right. And you do something for me. Call me when you get off."
"Are you kiddin'? I'm coming over."
This time, Destiny did smile. "Thanks, Jacq."
"Ain't no thang."
Destiny hung up the phone and tried to collect herself. She stood and smoothed out the navy blue coatdress she was wearing. She thought it made her look confident, but not domineering. She picked up the red notebook and headed for the door. Just then she remembered the CD. She walked to the stereo and pulled the CD from the rack.
On the front of the CD was a picture of the counter of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. On the counter was a black, oval-shaped plate with an ice cube, a block of chocolate, and a mound of whipped cream all melting toward the center. The words Allgood's Molten Hot Shop were written in gold across the top.
Destiny turned the CD over in her hand and gasped. Allgood was leaning against a wall looking serene and exotic. His shoulder-length dreads hung freely. The dark locks framed his face like a lion's mane. An incandescent light coated prominent features—eyes closed and peaceful, high, well defined cheekbones, generous lips that looked firm yet sensual, and mocha-brown skin.
There's something about a man with a five o'clock shadow, Destiny thought. Her eyes lingered on the precise cut of Allgood's subtle facial hair. Damn, she thought to herself. He is fine.
Destiny tucked the Allgood CD and the red notebook under her arm and walked, more confidently than she felt, out of her apartment.
* * *
By the time Jacq arrived at Destiny's apartment, Destiny was packing so quickly and intently that she didn't hear the doorbell. She was startled when she heard Jacq calling her from the living room.
Destiny dropped the white laced camisole she was packing and spun around. Jacq came traipsing into the bedroom.
"I used your spare key to get in. Didn't you hear me ringing?"
"Sorry, Jacq. I guess I didn't."
Jacq looked at the packed luggage, Destiny's open chest of drawers, and the underwear on the floor. A look of panic jumped onto her face. "Damn, Des. Did they let him go?"
Destiny smiled. It was the first honest smile she had allowed herself to have in more than a year.
"No, girl. They decided to keep him for three years."
Jacq whooped. She grabbed her friend and hugged her tightly. Destiny squeezed back. She truly loved Jacq for being there through her entire ordeal with Rico. When Destiny had needed to talk about Rico's vile accusations and wild, erratic behavior, Jacq had listened. When Destiny needed a place to stay while Rico went on his drinking binges, Jacq opened the door to her home. And when everyone else had scorned her for staying with Rico for four years, Jacq patiently helped her discover when to leave in her own time, and never called her stupid or foolish like some of her ex-friends. It seemed as though Jacq had been holding her for a long time.
"So why are you packing?"
Destiny sat down on her queen-sized, four-poster bed and looked at the walls of her bedroom. Her own photography hung there, along with paintings and poems by some of the artists at the council. Now the very things that used to bring her comfort were uncomfortably familiar.
"I've got to get away for a while. This whole situation with Rico has just worn me out. I need time to rejuvenate and recapture my life."
"What you need is a man. A real man. Not that imitation of life you just experienced. I'm talkin' a bona fide, gen-u-wine, real deal, make you cry when you doin' it, man."
Destiny shook her head. It never failed. Somehow, Jacq could always turn a conversation to sex.
"Look, the last thing I need right now is to be doin' it with somebody. I just want peace."
Jacq worked her neck and threw up the palm of her hand. "Good sex always makes me peaceful."
Destiny laughed. "You are certifiable."
Jacq picked up Destiny's camisole and handed it to her. "That's why ya like me. So, where are you goin' with this in such a hurry?"
Jacq sat down on the bed beside Destiny. "Atlanta? Girl, I thought you were going to say on a cruise or to the beach. Hell, even in the woods would have been more restful than Atlanta. What's in Atlanta?"
Destiny looked at the large candle sitting on her dresser. "Remember my candle story?"
A mischievous spark of realization crawled across Jacq's face. "Oh snap! You're going to see him?"
"Slow down, Jacq. I know where your gutterish mind is headed, and you're wrong. Davis and I are good friends."
"Yeah, uh-huh. Good friends who were engaged to be married."
"That was a long time ago. Anyway, Davis is working on a special project. He won't be home much, and he's letting me stay in his condo while he's working."
"I'll bet that project won't be the only special thing he works on."
Destiny allowed herself to laugh again. Despite her situation, she wondered if there would be any sparks between her and Davis. Jacq was right. They had been engaged. If only he hadn't succumbed to the allure of a player's lifestyle, she would be Mrs. Davis Van Housen today.
Jacq looked into her friend's eyes. The more Destiny tried to turn away, the more Jacq got in her face. Destiny knew she had been found out.
"OK, OK. So maybe I was thinking about it."
"I knew it."
"But it's only a mild curiosity."
"I knew that crazy Rico hadn't wrecked your stuff." Jacq glanced at the lingerie in Destiny's suitcase. "That's why you packing all those hoochie undies."
They roared with laughter again. Destiny couldn't remember the last time she felt so free.
"When do you leave?"
"Tonight. I have an 11 p.m. flight."
"Girl, you wasn't kiddin' about getting' outta here. How long are you stayin'?"
Destiny thought about that. "I'm not sure."
"What about your job?"
"I'm taking an artist's sabbatical." Destiny saw the look on her friend's face and decided she better explain. "It's kind of like a leave of absence, only you're supposed to be working on your art. But I just want to power down."
Jacq nodded her understanding. "What are you going to do for money?"
"I've got a nice-sized rainy day savings. And if needed, I've got some 401(k) money."
"Sounds like you've got a plan, missy," Jacq said, smiling playfully. "I'll let you go, on one condition."
Destiny smiled back. "What's that?"
"That you call a sister once and a while. You know how I worry."
"It's a deal."
"I tell you what," Jacq said, glancing at Destiny's strewn wardrobe. "Let's celebrate ol' school style, and then I'll help you finish packin'."
"That sounds wonderful."
"Cool. I'll go make us some fried bologna sandwiches like we used to eat back in the day, and you put on some Emotions."
Destiny had given up pork and beef years ago. "Now you know, I don't have any bologna."
Jacq walked into the living room. "I know. On the way over, I stopped at the store and picked up some nintey—nine cent bologna, some Miracle Whip, and some Wonder Bread. I felt a celebration comin' on."
Destiny called out after her friend who was already headed toward the kitchen. "I guess I'm not the only one who called Psychic Friends today."
* * *
Destiny looked around her, satisfied. There was hardly anyone on the plane and no one sitting beside her. She could take up as much space to relax as she wanted. Wanting to be comfortable, Destiny chose black velour pants and a matching ribbed turtleneck to wear during the plane ride, despite a scolding from Jacq.
"You never know who you might meet," Jacq had warned, and suggested that she change into the leopard-print duster she saw hanging in her closet.
This fashion advice came expectedly from the woman who owned a credit card for every major department store in the country and had the clothes to prove it. Destiny, who only had one credit card for emergencies, possessed a distinctively more modest wardrobe and was quite comfortable in Levi's and Hanes Her Way tank tops. Despite her friend's coaxing, Destiny opted for comfort.
She was disappointed that Davis wouldn't be able to pick her up from the airport. But it was just as well. She would rent a car and take a leisurely drive into the city. She had heard that the Atlanta skyline was impressive day and night. This way, she could take her time in finding out.
Destiny stretched her long legs out as far as they would go under the seat in front of her. Normally, she would fall asleep during plane rides, but tonight she was too excited.
She leaned back in the seat, thankful that Jacq had gotten her to the airport in time. For a while, she thought she would have to catch a later flight. Somewhere between Jacq's bologna sandwiches and their dancing and singing, they had lost track of time.
But it was worth it. Celebrating with Jacq brought back memories she'd forgotten she'd had. They played all the "jams" as Jacq called them. "Best of My Love" by the Emotions, "Got to be Real" by Cheryl Lynn, "Ring My Bell" by Anita Ward, and "Sophisticated Lady" by Natalie Cole were just a few on the hit list. Jacq called it a lady soul party.
Destiny almost laughed out loud remembering Jacq's singing. "Get it, girl. Work it, girl. Get down on the funk. Aw sookie sookie, now. Go Destiny, it's ya birthday, it's ya birthday!"
The two soul sisters had danced around Destiny's living room like teenagers. They shouted props back and forth to each other while the oldies but goodies blasted from the bedroom.
"Remember this one?" Jacq did the gigolo wiggling her arms back and forth.
Destiny hunched her shoulders as she turned from side to side popping her fingers. "Yeah, how about the Smurf?" she said.
"Got you beat," Jacq snapped, and whipped her arms quickly up and down into the Prep.
"Not yet," Destiny answered, and Smurfed into the Freddy Krueger. After a few moments, they were both laughing uncontrollably and slumped down onto Destiny's rattan sectional, exhausted.
Destiny took a reflective look at Jacq. It's funny, she thought, ever since they became friends, people always asked if they were sisters. And sometimes not just sisters, but twins. She and Jacq had never seen the similarities themselves. Like now, Destiny wore her hair in the thin corkscrew twirls of Sisterlocks; Jacq's hair was permed and straight. Destiny's complexion was golden brown; Jacq's was more like a buttery toffee. Destiny's compact frame consisted of easy contours; Jacq's physique had more curves than the Indy 500. But just last week when they were having espressos in a coffee club, their server all but insisted they were identical twins.
Their only explanation for this strange phenomenon came right after they first met. They were both varsity cheerleaders for the Lewis and Clark Junior High School basketball team. After staying late for practice one evening, Jacq asked Destiny if she could get a ride home with her.
"Sure. My mom won't mind. Besides, you just live a few blocks away."
The uniform-clad teenagers walked up to Mrs. Edna Chandler's gray Chevy Citation and got in.
"Mom, this is Jacq."
"Oh, my God!" Jacq shouted from the backseat.
"What's wrong?" Destiny and her mother asked, turning around.
Jacquelyn Jackson stared wide-eyed and open-mouthed at Destiny's mother. After a few seconds, she spoke.
"You look just like my mother. You could be her identical twin."
So although they couldn't see the similarities in themselves, they both agreed that their mothers were doppelgängers, and that fact helped to solidify their friendship and to make them feel special when people mistook them for twins.
The two friends played more music, sang more songs, ate more bologna sandwiches, and danced more dances. When they finally realized what time it was, they were halfway through Destiny's CD collection.
"Jacq, look what time it is!"
Jacq glanced at the handmade clock on the wall and moaned. "Girl, I'm too tired to move." Destiny tugged on her friend's arm and belted out her best James Brown impression.
"A-get-up-a, get on up!"
They laughed some more and went into Destiny's bedroom to finish packing.
Even though Jacq drove like a bat out of hell, the ride from the apartment to the airport seemed to take forever. During that time Jacq took the opportunity to quiz Destiny about her decision to visit Davis.
"I'm kinda mad at you."
"Why, because I sing and dance better than you?"
Jacq took her eyes off the road just long enough to roll them at Destiny.
"No, cow. Because you never said anything about talking to Davis or this trip."
"Why you wanna keep it on the hush?"
Destiny thought to herself before answering. "I don't know, Jacq. I guess I just haven't been real sure of myself lately. So I didn't want to say anything until I was certain that I was going."
"And when were you certain?"
Destiny looked out at the night. "Just now."
Jacq gave Destiny a cockeyed look. "OK, so who called who then?"
"I called him."
"I knew it, ya skeeza."
"I just needed somebody to talk to. Someone who doesn't know anything about my situation with Rico."
"And . . ."
"And we talked. I didn't tell him about Rico, but I did tell him that I need a break from the Arts and Humanities Council, which I do. He suggested I come down there. Actually, he sent me a ticket."
"Ooo, you go, girl. Now what does he do again?"
"He provides consulting and information technologies to various businesses. His company is called Van Housen and Associates."
Jacq often wished her friend would simply speak plain English. "He's a computer geek," Jacq quipped. "On a serious tip though, he must be bankin" some mad Benjamins."
"You amaze me. If it's not sex, it's money."
"In this case, I think we're talkin' 'bout both!"
Destiny refused to laugh. She was determined to keep her thoughts in the right place. She did not want to get her hopes up. Whatever happened, she reasoned, would happen.
They reached the airport in record time. Jacq pulled up in front of the United terminal and put the car in park.
"Aren't you coming in?" Destiny asked.
"You know I hate anything to do with good-byes."
"I know," Destiny replied, getting out of Jacq's black Mazda Miata. Although Jacq couldn't hold on to a job for long, she somehow managed to keep her sports car payments up.
Jacq helped Destiny get her luggage out of the trunk. The two women hugged for a long time and then slowly pulled away from each other.
Destiny smiled at Jacq with tears in her eyes. "Thanks for everything, Jacq."
"Ain't no thang," Jacq replied with tears in her eyes. "Now go on before you miss your flight."
Destiny picked up her luggage and hurried into the terminal. She stopped at the first flight schedule monitor she came to and scanned it for Flight 308. When she found it, she almost jumped for joy. The schedule said, Flight 308 was departing at 11:35. She hadn't missed it. In fact, it was late, so she had a little extra time.
After checking her bags, Destiny walked to the gift shop to buy something to read. During her fervid packing with Jacq, she had forgotten to bring reading material. She was about to pick up Heart & Soul magazine when the Essence magazine stopped her dead in her tracks.
She froze as her senses leaped to life. It was him, Allgood, looking fine as chilled wine. With only a few moments remaining before her plane departed, Destiny bought the Essence and headed toward the boarding area.
She touched the cover of the magazine delicately as if she were stroking his cheek. Jacq was right, she thought. There was definitely something about Allgood that made a woman want to forget every man she'd ever met. Darned if she knew why, but ever since she had heard Allgood's songs, it was as if she was falling in love with someone she'd never met.
Destiny leafed quickly to the table of contents, found the page number for the Allgood article, and, hurrying, flipped the pages to it. "Whoa," she said, then looked around to see if anyone near had heard her. Luckily, the surrounding passengers didn't seem to notice.
The full-page picture of Allgood was mesmerizing. He was standing against a lush backdrop of cobalt-blue, crush-velvet drapes, which flowed into large folds on a concrete floor. He wore a matching blue, crush velvet suit. The shirt was open to the navel and the pants clung to long, powerful legs. The look on his face mingled eagerness and tenderness. He stood with his arms outstretched as if he were urging the love of his life to come walking into them.
When Destiny's heart began to dance with excitement, she told herself she was being silly. After all, it was just a picture.
But Destiny felt something as she read the article. And what she felt was an undeniable bond. She knew it was ridiculous, but it was true. By the time she had read half the article, she wondered if she was experiencing some residual feelings for Rico, and projecting them onto this Allgood person.
Nevertheless, Destiny read the article with feverish intensity. The author wrote about Allgood's growing number of fans, his comparisons to the artist once again known as Prince, and his love for old school music. She got goose bumps when she read the description of his sensual energy on stage. When the flight attendant handed her the complimentary peanuts, Destiny couldn't eat. Her stomach was aflutter with butterflies.
She pushed the peanuts aside and continued to read. The author, wrote dripping details of Allgood's reverence for women and his struggle to find the right one. She also told of Elise Kent his first love, their fleeting affair, how saddened he became when they broke up, and how he never saw her again. When Destiny read this, her arms ached to hold him.
She tried to make herself stop, tried to turn down the intensity of her emerging feelings, but it was too late. When she got near the end of the article, she was completely convinced that Allgood was the perfect man. She felt a long, deep sigh coming on when she was startled by the last details of the article. "Allgood is currently designing a recording studio and working on a new album, 1000 Words in his home in Atlanta, Georgia."
Destiny slammed the magazine shut. OK, she told herself. I've indulged myself too long. Yes the man is gorgeous, but this infatuation must be some sick leftover from a bad relationship. "Get a grip," she said out loud as a flight attendant was walking past her seat.
"Excuse me," the flight attendant replied.
"I'm sorry," Destiny offered. "I was just thinking out loud."
The flight attendant put on his plastic smile. "Is there anything I can get you?"
"No, I've had enough already," Destiny answered, and spent the rest of the flight gazing out of the window into the murky night sky.